Ronald Tolkien was born of English parents at Bloemfontein in the independent Orange Free State, where his father worked in a bank. When he was four, his mother took him and his younger brother home to England, and his father died soon afterwards. The Tolkiens lived in and…more
Tolkien, wary of the idea of any film adaptation of his works, sold the film, stage, and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1968, and forbade the Disney studios, whose works he loathed, from ever getting involved in future productions. UA ended up never making a movie.
Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, is credited with helping to convert C.S. Lewis, a former atheist, to Christianity, but was disappointed when Lewis chose Anglicanism over Catholicism.
Tolkien was a good friend of another Oxford don who taught English literature and wrote books for children, C.S. Lewis, who wrote of him - "At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both."
A Danish edition of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings which appeared in 1977 was illustrated by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
On March 28, 1972, Tolkien was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by H.M. the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The order was stolen from his room the same night, but it was eventually returned anonymously.
For most of his life Tolkien did not own a car, preferring to get around by bicycle.
The Tolkien family came to England from Germany in the 18th century. Their name was anglicized from Tollkühn, which in German means 'foolhardy'.
As a small child living in Africa, Tolkien was bitten by a tarantula spider.
After the death of both his parents, he was brought up by a Roman Catholic priest, Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory.
After coming home from the first world war, Tolkien's first job was as an assistant on the Oxford Dictionary for two years (1919-21). While there, he worked mostly on the etymology of words of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic origins beginning with the letter W. He then moved on to become Professor of English Language at Leeds University (1921-25), Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (1925-45) and finally Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford (1945-59).
Tolkien's works of fiction include The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), The Silmarillion, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Road Goes Ever On, The Father Christmas Letters, Smith of Wootton Major, and Leaf by Niggle. He also produced many works of scholarship, such as his translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Tolkien married Edith Bratt in 1916, just before leaving for the trenches in the Great War. They had four children, John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla. The Tolkiens are buried together at Wolvercote, near Oxford, under the names Edith Mary Tolkien, Luthien, 1889-1971, and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973.
Tolkien spoke more than twenty languages well. He was the author of important works of scholarship and also translated most of the surviving Anglo-Saxon poems into modern English verse.
Among his family and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien was always called by his middle name, Ronald, while his academic colleagues usually called him Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I wish life was not so short. Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason.
J.R.R. Tolkien: The news today about Atomic bombs is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men's hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope 'this will ensure peace'.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Wars are always lost, and War always goes on.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Gentlemen are non-existent among the superiors, and even human beings are rare indeed.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself.
J.R.R. Tolkien: It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.
J.R.R. Tolkien: There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.
Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Courage is found in unlikely places.
J.R.R. Tolkien: All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
J.R.R. Tolkien: It's a dangerous business going out of your front door.
J.R.R. Tolkien: All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky, and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.